There’s not much that wasn’t already known about the Pixel 3 smartphones, but Google officially took the wraps off the devices today. In terms of design, they look pretty much as all the leaks have shown, with the Pixel 3 itself bypassing the need for a notch while the larger model embraces it. A fingerprint sensor can still be found on the back of the device.
The focus of this year’s Pixel is the camera experience, which has seen a host of improvements to existing features as well as introducing new ones. The phone still features the popular HDR+ feature with Zero Shutter Lag paired with the Pixel Visual Core. One of the new features is Top Shot, which will now let users scroll through a set of frames taken in the moments leading up to pressing the shutter button. This lets users pick the best shot of the bunch, even when the timing isn’t the best. There’s also Super Res Zoom, which uses a burst of shots taken at once to combines them to provide the best image quality when zooming in on a picture.
Perhaps the most interesting feature showcased is NightSight, which Google says will negate the need to use the camera flash in low-light. The company compared a low-light shot between the iPhone Xs and Pixel 3, and indeed, the difference is tremendous.
The front-facing camera also got a lot of improvements, especially thanks to a new second sensor added to the device. The two sensors are designed for group selfies and provide a very wide field of view so that more content can fit inside the frame.
Google has also invested in its AR stickers feature, which is now called Playground. There are new characters including Marvel’s Avengers and an upcoming appearance by Donald Glover’s Childish Gambino character. The AR characters can reach to user interactions as well as each other, which should help them feel a little more real.
Other smaller include a PhotoBooth mode which automatically takes a picture when the camera detects a smile or funny face without the need to press the shutter button, Motion Auto Focus, which keeps a subject in focus even as they move around in the frame, and an improved portrait mode which allows users to adjust the intensity of the bokeh effect, select focal subjects, and use color pop to bring out the subject of the picture.
As usual, there’s also a big focus on artificial intelligence with Google’s latest phones, with the Google Duplex technology shown off at I/O now being part of Google Assistant. One of the uses of Duplex will be Screen Call, which can be used to automatically answer a call when the user might be busy. Google Assistant will interact with the caller as necessary, and the conversation is transcribed in real-time on the screen. Duplex launches alongside the Pixel 3, but it’ll also be available for previous Pixel phones next month. As part of its push for digital wellbeing, there’s a new Flip to Shhh, which will silence incoming notifications by simply placing the phone face down on a surface.
Google also talked about security a lot during the event, and the Pixel 3 phones also include the new Titan Security chip which locally protects user and app data, credentials, and the integrity of the OS itself.
To go along with the new phones, Google also introduced the new Pixel Stand, a wireless charger that allows your phone to stand up on a surface. It can be used with more than Pixel phones, but it also brings some interesting features for Google’s devices. When a Pixel 3 is docked, the UI adjust so relevant information can be seen at a glance, and you can interact with the phone similarly to a Google Home Hub. The Pixel Stand also enables experiences such as the phone’s screen getting progressively brighter before sounding out an alarm, to help the user to wake up more naturally. When not in use, a docked Pixel smartphone will also serve as a digital photo frame.
The Pixel 3 comes in three colors: Just Black, Clearly White, and Not Pink (which actually is pink). The phones start at $799 for the smaller model, while the XL starts at $899. As a bonus, you also get six months of YouTube Music for free with the new phones. They come in 64GB and 128GB models, 4GB of RAM, and the latest Snapdragon 845 chipset. You can pre-order the phones now through the Google Store. The Pixel Stand costs $79, but it only seems to be available in white.